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‘Follow The Science’: A Potent Source Of Authority For Politicians

‘Follow The Science’: A Potent Source Of Authority For Politicians

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

To hear the way some politicians talk, when it comes to COVID-19, they’re all “following the science,” not to mention…

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'Follow The Science': A Potent Source Of Authority For Politicians

Authored by Nathan Worcester via The Epoch Times,

To hear the way some politicians talk, when it comes to COVID-19, they’re all “following the science,” not to mention “the data.”

“Look at the data. Follow the science. Listen to the experts. Be smart,” now-former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote on Twitter in May 2020, after “Two Weeks to Flatten the Curve” had fully transitioned to “The New Normal.”

“We’ve been operating on facts and data and science from the very beginning,” said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in a campaign ad titled simply “Follow The Science.”

President Joe Biden has frequently appealed to “the science.” In an executive order announcing a vaccine mandate for federal workers, for instance, he said his administration used “the best available data and science-based public health measures.” In an article criticizing Biden’s move to push vaccine boosters in September, StatNews’s Lev Facher described “Follow the Science” as “a mantra” for the administration.

White House chief medical adviser on COVID-19 Dr. Anthony Fauci stands at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., on Feb. 11, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

“The science” emerged long before 2020 as a potent source of authority for politicians. Yet while the scientific method is a powerful tool for advancing human potential, the belief that it alone can guide us is an example of “scientism.”

Scientism is, in the words of public intellectual Scott Masson, “the belief that moral or evaluative judgments are merely subjective and that only the ‘hard’ sciences—think physics, chemistry, or biology—furnish legitimate objective knowledge.” While few American politicians would openly endorse this position, the actions many have taken during the COVID-19 pandemic reflect scientism in deed, if not in word.

Scientism lets politicians off the hook for their decisions. They didn’t really make a decision—they merely “followed the science.”

As a scientistic credo, “Follow the science” doesn’t just abrogate leaders’ accountability as decision-makers. It also does violence to the nature of science, which seldom offers the clear-cut, politically useful conclusions that politicians want.

People wearing face masks stand in line as they wait to be vaccinated at the Sydney Olympic Park Vaccination Centre at Homebush in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 16, 2021. (David Gray/AFP via Getty Images)

A popular meme contrasts the “scientific method” with the “science worshiper’s method.” While the former moves in a rigorous, self-correcting way toward results that may or may not align with a specific hypothesis, the latter constructs a model and then only accepts the data that will confirm that model.

At its most extreme, “following the science” is inflexibly dogmatic. When less inflexible, “following the science” can lead to sudden, sharp changes in public policy, often in the face of other evidence and goals separate from the COVID-19 response—for example, avoiding other health problems or economic disruption traceable to such policies.

Masking

In the case of masking, “following the science” has led to a series of dramatic reversals.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks to members of Congress in Washington on Sept. 9, 2020. (Michael Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

In February 2020, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams wrote on Twitter that Americans should “STOP BUYING MASKS!” as they were “not effective.”

In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHOmaintained that healthy individuals didn’t need to wear masks.

Yet as mask production ramped up in the United States, U.S. public health authorities changed their tune. In early April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that Americans consider wearing cloth masks.

By June 2020, WHO recommended that healthy members of the general public wear masks in situations where physical distancing wasn’t possible, citing new scientific evidence on transmission.

A man enters the headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 15, 2021. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In 2021, the CDC repeatedly shifted on masking. In July 2021, it reversed a May recommendation that vaccinated people need not wear masks, drawing rebukes from Republican governors.

Some experts believe that such shifts mark a significant departure from our understanding of masking before the pandemic.

“When it comes to the point of certain interventions that are sort of weakly supported, and if you go back and look at everything that was published before 2020, and come to this completely different conclusion if you read the things that published later on in 2020, about masks or the ability of lockdowns to stop and end spread indefinitely—long-term lockdowns that have devastating collateral damage—and that type of thing. And then you realize how politicized this really has become,” immunologist Steven Templeton, a professor at Indiana University, formerly with the CDC, said in an interview with The Epoch Times’ EpochTV.

One of the most politicized issues is the masking of young children. While advocates have argued that children could be major transmitters of COVID-19, opponents have argued that children are neither major vectors of the disease nor vulnerable to serious illness or death. They have also pointed out the understudied developmental and physiological risks of masking young children.

A pupil wearing a face mask attends a class in a file photo. (JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP via Getty Images)

One 2021 preprint found no correlation between mask mandates and COVID-19 case rates among students and faculty across schools in Florida, New York, and Massachusetts, though the authors included caveats about how well their findings could be generalized.

Still, for many schools, “following the science” has led to universal mask mandates. Portland Public Schools, for example, requires the masking of children at all times and places, indoor or outdoor, and irrespective of vaccination status, “except when eating, drinking or playing a musical wind instrument.”

You realize how politicized this really has become.

— Steven Templeton, professor at Indiana University

In one instance, guerilla footage showed kindergartners “eating” while sitting outside on buckets in 40-degree weather while socially distanced from playmates.

In cases such as these, “following the science” has the look and feel of political theater.

Men wearing protective suits make their way at a bus stop at Narita international airport on the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant amid the pandemic in Narita, east of Tokyo, Japan, Nov. 30, 2021. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Omicron and Beyond

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 hasn’t yet caused a surge in serious COVID-19 cases. Yet as soon as the new strain made international headlines, governments across the world were ready to “follow the science,” or at least take some sort of action in its name.

The United States, the UK, and other countries have banned travel from many countries in southern Africa, where Omicron was first detected. Japan, meanwhile, barred entry of all foreign nationals.

WHO and other scientists and physicians argued that these bans weren’t warranted, in part because they would do little to slow the variant’s spread.

As the new strain made international headlines, governments across the world were ready to ‘Follow the Science.’

The CEO of Pfizer, too, has speculated that the variant could push up the debut of its latest booster, telling CNBC, “I think we will need a fourth dose.”

For now, however, the new variant appears to be mild. To date, Omicron doesn’t seem to have caused a single verifiable death.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference organized by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 3, 2020. (Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via Reuters)

When asked by The Epoch Times if Omicron had led to a single confirmed fatality, a WHO spokesperson sent its weekly epidemiological update for Dec. 7.

According to that guide: “All of the 212 confirmed cases identified in 18 European Union countries for which there was information available on severity were asymptomatic or mild. While South Africa saw an 82 percent increase in hospital admissions due to COVID-19 (from 502 to 912) during the week 28 November–4 December 2021, it is not yet known the proportion of these with the Omicron variant.”

In addition, the WHO spokesperson said, “For Omicron, we have not had any deaths reported, but it is still early in the clinical course of disease and this may change.”

The CDC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times on whether there were any confirmed Omicron deaths.

Other examples abound. For instance, while data show vaccinated individuals are significantly less likely to die of COVID-19 than the unvaccinated, “following the science” to preapproved conclusions may prematurely foreclose or minimize serious concerns about vaccine safety, particularly in relation to heart inflammation or other cardiovascular disease.

In September testimony before the FDA in its evaluation of the Pfizer booster, entrepreneur Steve Kirsch said that Pfizer’s vaccines kill more people than they save, citing Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) data, among other information.

Just days ago, physicians and scientists in the UK reportedly warned that post-pandemic stress disorder is driving a rise in heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues, including among younger patients.

Some commentators speculated that the rise could be related to vaccines.

Candace Owens wrote on Twitter in response to the story: “I’ve just learned that the sudden increase in heart-related illnesses is likely due to **checks Big Pharma notes** Post-Pandemic Stress Disorder. Nothing to see here!”

Following Science, Not ‘Following the Science’

While New York and New York City have pursued hardline policies, including the city’s vaccine pass system applicable to children as young as 5, the state of Florida has blocked mandates and prioritized individual choice.

Today, case rates in Florida are lower than in New York, likely in part because of the disease’s seasonality. Moreover, while Floridians are on average older than New York residents, suggesting that they should be more vulnerable to COVID-19, the death rate per 100,000 is still lower in that state than in New York, according to NBC News. New York City itself has had more than 34,000 deaths, due partly to major early clusters in nursing homes in the city.

People visit Clearwater Beach after Governor Ron DeSantis opened the beaches at 7 a.m. on May 4, 2020 in Clearwater, Fla. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Senate’s Dec. 8 vote to block Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate for large employers, which came soon after the 6th Circuit Court overruled the same mandate, could signal the resilience of checks and balances against compulsion in the name of “the science.”

Elsewhere in the world, “following the science,” often in spite of other scientific evidence, is leading to more draconian policies.

New Brunswick, Canada, has permitted grocery stores to exclude the unvaccinated, violating the basic human right to food articulated in Article 25 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada–U.S. border crossing in Windsor, Ont., in a file photo. (The Canadian Press/Rob Gurdebeke)

Numerous studies have raised questions about whether vaccination stems transmission, with some suggesting that vaccinated people with suppressed symptoms of the disease may even be major drivers of new infection. Regardless, “the science” demands greater sacrifices by the day.

Good science can and should inform our judgments as well as those of politicians. But unthinking gestures toward “the science” don’t shield any of us from responsibility—though as Jeffrey A. Tucker of The Brownstone Institute points out, the bureaucrats whose banalities enforce our new scientistic consensuses shirk any blame for its self-evident failures.

Tyler Durden Fri, 12/17/2021 - 22:15

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“The Real President Is Whoever Controls The Teleprompter”: Musk Delivers Scathing Criticism Of Biden

"The Real President Is Whoever Controls The Teleprompter": Musk Delivers Scathing Criticism Of Biden

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch…

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"The Real President Is Whoever Controls The Teleprompter": Musk Delivers Scathing Criticism Of Biden

Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times,

Tech billionaire Elon Musk this week warned that the United States must take steps to address inflation or it will end up like socialist Venezuela.

Musk, who is currently in the process of acquiring Twitter, told a virtual conference that he believes the government has printed too much money in recent years.

“I mean, the obvious reason for inflation is that the government printed a zillion amount of more money than it had, obviously,” Musk said, likely referring to COVID-19 relief stimulus packages worth trillions of dollars that were passed in recent years.

U.S. inflation rose by 8.3 percent in April, compared with the previous year. That’s slightly lower than the 8.5 percent spike in March, but it’s still near the 40-year high.

“So it’s like the government can’t … issue checks far in excess of revenue without there being inflation, you know, velocity of money held constant,” the Tesla CEO said.

“If the federal government writes checks, they never bounce. So that is effectively creation of more dollars. And if there are more dollars created, then the increase in the goods and services across the economy, then you have inflation, again, velocity of money held constant.”

If governments could merely “issue massive amounts of money and deficits didn’t matter, then, well, why don’t we just make the deficit 100 times bigger,” Musk asked. “The answer is, you can’t because it will basically turn the dollar into something that is worthless.”

“Various countries have tried this experiment multiple times,” Musk said.

“Have you seen Venezuela? Like the poor, poor people of Venezuela are, you know, have been just run roughshod by their government.”

In 2018, Venezuela, a country with significant reserves of oil and gas, saw its inflation rise more than 65,000 percent amid an economic crash that included plummeting oil prices and government price controls. The regime of Nicolas Maduro then started printing money, thereby devaluing its currency, which caused prices to rapidly increase.

During the conference, Musk also said the Biden administration “doesn’t seem to get a lot done” and questioned who is actually in charge. 

“The real president is whoever controls the teleprompter,” he said.

“The path to power is the path to the teleprompter.”

“The Trump administration, leaving Trump aside, there were a lot of people in the administration who were effective at getting things done,” he remarked.

Musk’s comment about the White House comes as Jeff Bezos, also one of the richest people in the world, has increasingly started to target the administration’s economic policies. Bezos, in a series of Twitter posts, said the rapid increase in federal spending is the reason why inflation is as high as it is.

“Remember the Administration tried their best to add another $3.5 TRILLION to federal spending,” Bezos wrote on Monday, drawing rebuke from several White House officials. “They failed, but if they had succeeded, inflation would be even higher than it is today, and inflation today is at a 40-year high.”

Tyler Durden Tue, 05/17/2022 - 15:05

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Type-I interferon stops immune system ‘going rogue’ during viral infections

Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2022) – McMaster University researchers have found not only how some viral infections cause severe tissue damage, but also how…

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Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2022) – McMaster University researchers have found not only how some viral infections cause severe tissue damage, but also how to reduce that damage.

Credit: Georgia Kirkos/McMaster University

Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2022) – McMaster University researchers have found not only how some viral infections cause severe tissue damage, but also how to reduce that damage.

 

They have discovered how Type I interferon (IFN) stops the immune system ‘going rogue’ and attacking the body’s own tissues when fighting viral infections, including COVID-19.

 

Their paper was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens today.

  

Senior author Ali Ashkar said IFN is a well-known anti-viral signalling molecule released by the body’s cells that can trigger a powerful immune response against harmful viruses.

 

“What we have found is that it is also critical to stop white blood cells from releasing protease enzymes, which can damage organ tissue. It has this unique dual function to kick start an immune response against a viral infection on the one hand, as well as restrain that same response to prevent significant bystander tissue damage on the other,” he said.

 

The research team investigated IFN’s ability to regulate a potentially dangerous immune response by testing it on both flu and the HSV-2 virus, a highly prevalent sexually transmitted pathogen, using mice. Data from COVID-19 patients in Germany, including post-mortem lung samples, was also used in the study.

 

“For many viral infections, it is not actually the virus that causes most of the tissue damage, it is our heightened immune activation towards the virus,” said Ashkar, a professor of medicine at McMaster.

  

First co-author of the study and PhD student Emily Feng said: “Our body’s immune response is trying to fight off the virus infection, but there’s a risk of damaging innocent healthy tissue in the process. IFNs regulates the immune response to only target tissues that are infected.

 

“By discovering the mechanisms the immune system uses that can inadvertently cause tissue damage, we can intervene during infection to prevent this damage and not necessarily have to wait until vaccines are developed to develop life-saving treatments,” she added.

 

“This applies not just to COVID-19, but also other highly infectious viruses such as flu and Ebola, which can cause tremendous and often life-threatening damage to the body’s organs,” said first study co-author Amanda Lee, a family medicine resident. 

 

Ashkar said the release of harmful proteases is the result of a ‘cytokine storm’, which is life-threatening inflammation sometimes triggered by viral infections. It has been a common cause of death in patients with COVID-19, but treatment has been developed to prevent and suppress the cytokine storm.

 

Ashkar said that steroids like dexamethasone are already used to rein in an extreme immune response to viral infections. The authors used doxycycline in their study, an antibiotic used for bacterial infections and as an anti-inflammatory agent, inhibits the function of proteases causing the bystander tissue damage.

 

Lee added: “This has the potential in the future to be used to alleviate virus-induced life-threatening inflammation and warrants further research.” 

 

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

 

-30-

 

Editors:

Pictures of Ali Ashkar and Emily Feng may be found at https://bit.ly/3wmSw0D

  

 

 


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mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna fare better against COVID-19 variants of concern

A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — perform better against the World…

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A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — perform better against the World Health Organization’s variants of concern (VOCs) than viral vector vaccines — AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen. Although they all effectively prevent severe disease by VOCs, the research, publishing May 17th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that people receiving a viral vector vaccine are more vulnerable to infection by new variants.

Credit: Carlos Reusser Monsalvez, Flickr (CC0, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — perform better against the World Health Organization’s variants of concern (VOCs) than viral vector vaccines — AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen. Although they all effectively prevent severe disease by VOCs, the research, publishing May 17th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that people receiving a viral vector vaccine are more vulnerable to infection by new variants.

By March 2022, COVID-19 had caused over 450 million confirmed infections and six million reported deaths. The first vaccines approved in the US and Europe that protect against serious infection are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which deliver genetic code, known as mRNA, to the bodies’ cells, whereas Oxford/AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen are viral vector vaccines that use a modified version of a different virus — a vector — to deliver instructions to our cells. Three vaccines are delivered as two separate injections a few weeks apart, and J&J/Janssen as a single dose.

Marit J. van Gils at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues, took blood samples from 165 healthcare workers, three and four weeks after first and second vaccination respectively, and for J&J/Janssen at four to five and eight weeks after vaccination. Samples were collected before, and four weeks after a Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

Four weeks after the initial two doses, antibody responses to the original SARS-CoV-2 viral strain were highest in recipients of Moderna, followed closely by Pfizer-BioNTech, and were substantially lower in those who received viral vector vaccines. Tested against the VOCs – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron – neutralizing antibodies were higher in the mRNA vaccine recipients compared to those who had viral vector vaccines. The ability to neutralize VOCs was reduced in all vaccine groups, with the greatest reduction against Omicron. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster increased antibody responses in all groups with substantial improvement against VOCs, including Omicron.

The researchers caution that their AstraZeneca group was significantly older, because of safety concerns for the vaccine in younger age groups. As immune responses tend to weaken with age, this could affect the results. This group was also smaller because the Dutch government halted use for a period.

van Gils concludes, “Four COVID-19 vaccines induce substantially different antibody responses.”

#####

In your coverage, please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper in PLOS Medicine:

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003991

Citation: van Gils MJ, Lavell A, van der Straten K, Appelman B, Bontjer I, Poniman M, et al. (2022) Antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants induced by four different SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in health care workers in the Netherlands: A prospective cohort study. PLoS Med 19(5): e1003991. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003991

 

Author Countries: The Netherlands, United States

 

Funding: This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) ZonMw (Vici grant no. 91818627 to R.W.S., S3 study, grant agreement no. 10430022010023 to M.K.B.; RECoVERED, grant agreement no. 10150062010002 to M.D.d.J.), by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (grant no. INV002022 and INV008818 to R.W.S. and INV-024617 to M.J.v.G.), by Amsterdam UMC through the AMC Fellowship (to M.J.v.G.) and the Corona Research Fund (to M.K.B.), and by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program (RECoVER, grant no. 101003589 to M.D.d.J). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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